Therapeutic Phlebotomy

What diseases are treated with Therapeutic Phlebotomy?

The three most common reasons for phlebotomy are:

  • Hemochromatosis – a disorder of the way the body uses iron. The body absorbs too much of the iron found in the foods we eat. This extra iron is stored in the body, mainly in the liver, pancreas and skin, which leads to cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, enlarged heart with congestive heart failure, irregular heart beat and increased skin pigmentation.
  • Polycythemia – an increase in the number of circulating red blood cells and total blood volume.
  • Porphyries – metabolic disorders associated with hepatosplenomegaly (enlargement of the spleen and liver), photosensitivity (sensitivity to light), pigmentation and distinct red color in the urine.

How often can therapeutic phlebotomies be performed?

As often as every few days may be needed to improve the symptoms of the blood disorder. Phlebotomies may be scheduled on a regular basis, such as monthly, or as needed in response to the symptoms of the disease after the initial desired results are reached.

What are the requirements for therapeutic phlebotomy?

A physician order including the amount of blood to be withdrawn, the frequency of donation, and the desired hemoglobin level are required. A health history and mini-physical are done, and consent for phlebotomy is given.

Can blood collected from people diagnosed with blood disorders be transfused to patients?

Most cannot, but in 1999 the FDA approved that the blood from people with hereditary hemochromatosis posed no greater risk than blood obtained from volunteer blood donors -provided the patient meets all screening and testing requirements.

Where is therapeutic phlebotomy performed?

The Blood Connection provides therapeutic phlebotomy as a community service at no charge. A physician’s order is required. Services are by appointment only between 8 am and 5 pm on Thursdays and Fridays; no walk-ins please.

For More Information:

  • American Hemochromatosis Society
  • Iron Disorders Institute

These links are provided only as a resource for our readers. This listing does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Blood Connection (TBC) or imply endorsement by TBC.